I’ve seen several studies, though I can’t find one now, pointing out that a really disproportionate number of sources quoted in articles are male. And that’s definitely true in my own news articles and those of my coworkers—I’d guess 60-75% of my sources are male.
But let’s consider the area I cover. A big part of my job is covering Columbia County, Washington including its major city (Dayton), its Port and its school district. The county has an all-male three commissioner board, a male planner, a male public works director, a male sheriff (with a female spokesperson) and a female county prosecutor. The auditor, assessor and public health directors are women, but I’m far more likely to get data from the assessor and auditor than quote them directly. The city has a male mayor and two women on a seven-person city council. The school superintendent is male, and four of his five school board members are too. The Port director is female, but her three-person board is all male. At the end of the day, it’s difficult for me to do my job without disproportionately quoting men.
That’s true: but only if papers, and reporters at them, limit themselves to the role of an institution that covers other institutions.
If papers operate only at institutional scale, they will inevitably mirror those institutions. Moreover, they will play a role in replicating and perpetuating those institutions — and the gender and race imbalances that are baked into them — by reinforcing and amplifying the voices of people who are already in power.
So what’s the alternative? I did mention there were other scales to operate at, so what are they, right?
A little sociology:
You might think that everything before “state” represents earlier phases of history, but Faulknerwise, the past isn’t over — it isn’t even past.
Individual (tweeting blogging tumblring facebooking about their personal lives)
citizen (tweeting blogging tumblring facebooking about politics and other Stuff they see Outside The House).
Band (darts league, neighborhood group, actual musicians in groups)
Tribe (they’re still out there just take a peek)
Chiefdom (police, fire, other departments that operate independently, large businesses. A surprising amount of pro sports literature operates at this level — “rebuilding,” coaches, dynasties; it has a built-in drama & small-r romantic sweep)
State (city council meetings to the Oval Office)
I suspect just changing focus for a day could be very enlivening, or covering a story about one layer from the POV of another layer.
"Worlds, Not Stories," on datavisualization as a new form of photojournalism
Check it out — you can give $1 to support investigative journalism…without even opening your wallet! Go to any story on ProPublica.org, look for the heart, and tweet or FB a link and a deserving newsroom will get a buck.
Back at the Hacks/Hackers Media Party in Buenos Aires, I announced the creation of Code Sprints—funding opportunities to build open-sourced tools for journalism. We used Code Sprints to fund a collaboration between WNYC in New York and KPCC in Southern California to build a parser for…
Source/Open News is getting *really* interesting.
The Journalism Program is offering UMass Amherst’s first Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) this summer, a free online course called Building a Basic Website. You’ll learn design principles, HTML5, CSS, how to incorporate jQuery plugins into your website and more. Visit the MOOC homepage for more information and to reserve your spot. The Illustration above is by Kim Rosen.
Good Idea Jeans: The New York Times has started a Tumblr of haikus from sentences culled from articles, then given line breaks.
A haiku from the article: A Modest Proposal for More Back-Stabbing in Preschool
Congratulations to Journalism’s own B.J. Roche, who was just awarded the SBS Outstanding Teacher Award!
Yay for BJ Roche, who the last time I saw her was doing entrepreneurial competitions with her students. Cool!
Chicago Transit Authority president Forrest Claypool had some biting words for the Chicago Sun-Times — on its own pages.
On Thursday, the CTA chief penned a letter to the editor, chastising the newspaper’s article on CTA crime that ran on Tuesday.
Read this, it’s amazing.
A collection of online data journalism resources compiled by the Tow Center.
My sense is that most journalists who’ve worked with a spreadsheet — knowingly, or unconsciously — kind of “get” the concepts… However, where the conceptual meets the practical, there can be some bumpy landings.
Phillip Smith, a digital publishing consultant, provides great tips for journalists working with spreadsheets and databases to improve the way they handle data in How Journalists Can Think Like Programmers | PBS.
Colleague Derek Willis writes up how the mobile edition of the US federal government’s annual publication of appointments helped him create a streamlined public JSON dataset, “mak[ing] a profound difference to [a specific Times] article, providing a more complete picture and dramatically reducing research time”.
Javaun talks about developing the Codecademy API tutorial for the NPR API. Nifty!
I love Alberto’s book “The Functional Art,” and his talk on infographics and dataviz really blew my mind.
How does a data journalist think? (exactly as described)
WorldBank Data Tumblr is a trove of great data visualizations of … World Bank data.